Nine of us showed up for a Chowdown on this gray SF day at Louie’s California Chinese Restaurant. This is not your noisy, bustling Hong Kong style Dim Sum parlor with carts laden with items being paraded in front of dinners. Though large, it had a film-noir forties feel to it (Bogart and Bacall smoking cigarettes while nursing martinis at a corner table would not have seemed out of place in Louie’s faded ambiance), a land-that-time (as well as patrons) seemed to have forgotten: The nine of us comprised about just a bit less than half the diners at lunch. Since no rolling carts were there to entice us, we ordered from the menu with decidedly expert help from Yimster whose fluency in the language was an asset.
Here is what we had:
Chicken Claws in Black Bean Sauce – often not a favorite of non-Asian diners but these were eagerly eaten by all. I would have preferred them a bit crunchier
Bee’s Nest Taro Puff – those balls of taro with outsides looking like shredded wheat.
Zhou Zhou Dumplings – shredded pork and peanuts.
Pan Fried Sweet Corn Cake – these sounded exciting to me but were not especially tasty or exciting. . It just seemed like eating a polenta pancake.
Black Sesame Soft Balls – a popular Dim Sum item. Great texture and I liked the taste though I guess others did not because many went uneaten.
Seafood Lettuce Wrap – mixed seafood and vermicelli noodles –good taste and texture – that each diner wraps in large Iceberg lettuce leaves and seasons with Hoisin Sauce. I liked this a lot.
Har Gow – what’s a Dim sum meal w/o Har Gow?
Salty Pepper Squid – this was my favorite dish. Perfectly crunchy, just the right texture, and served with diced hot green peppers, tomatoes. I could have eaten a huge bowl of these.
Abalone Sauce – sadly no abalone but the sauce from abalone in a dish of pre-fried wheat noodles (Ifou?), sliced green onions and mushrooms. Seemed a crowd pleaser.
Tea-Smoked Duck – we order this at Yimster’s suggestion who said it was the best in the city. A large platter of smoky dark duck slices which we placed on little white flour circular flat rolls to make a sandwich and garnished with sliced green onions and Hoisin Sauce. This was my 2nd favorite dish of all
Price per person incl tip for 9 of us was $20/person.
Louie's California Chinese
646 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94111-2106